The best fantasy books with amazingly developed characters

Who am I?

As a child of immigrants I lived in three countries and went to five schools by grade eight, and I loved it! It started a passion in me for people and cultures. I’ve now lived in six countries, I speak five languages and visited countless places as a tourist. Learning about people and cultures is in my blood. Seeing the world, expanded my imagination and love for fantastical worlds. But, because I’ve met with many cultures and individuals, reading books with shallow characters and badly developed cultures is painful for me. I can tell when an author truly understands their characters and the worlds they create and I value that.

I wrote...

Terra Nova: Book 1


Book cover of Terra Nova: Book 1

What is my book about?

Evangeline is living a normal, teen life until mysterious, severe symptoms begin appearing. After passing out in the middle of a party, she is diagnosed with a rare, genetic blood disorder. In the delirium of her deteriorating health, a door to a parallel world opens before her; however, once she steps through it, she is unable to return to earth.

The place Evangeline now finds herself in is called Terra Nova, a world wherein vampires rule supreme, with no traces of humanity left. In order to survive, she must keep her mind open and accept the changes her body is undergoing. Soon those who she thought were murderers become her trainers, whose help she must enlist if she hopes to return home.

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The books I picked & why

Jade City

By Fonda Lee,

Book cover of Jade City

Why did I love this book?

This is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. It has a mafia twist to it which was done incredibly well and has not only superbly developed characters but also entire cultures. As a female reader, I can’t handle books in which women are caricatures of actual humans and unfortunately that is the case in 90% of action or martial arts books or movies. However, that is not the case in Jade City. Fonda Lee, the author of Jade City, is a female, black belt martial artist and I think this was one of the reasons why the female characters, in this mafia world, were developed to a deeper level than I have ever seen in any other mafia, or martial arts book or movie.

By Fonda Lee,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Jade City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'An epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but set in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you'll forget you're reading a book' KEN LIU

'Gripping!' ANN LECKIE, author of Ancillary Justice and The Raven Tower

'Lee's astute worldbuilding raises the stakes for her vivid and tautly-described action scenes' SCOTT LYNCH, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora

*****Shortlisted for the Nebula Awards, the Locus Awards, the Aurora Awards, the Sunburst Awards and an Best Book of the Month*****


A Darker Shade of Magic

By V. E. Schwab,

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Why did I love this book?

I am a complete sucker for parallel worlds and realities. A Darker Shade of Magic centers around 4 parallel Londons. This sounds like it would get nauseatingly confusing, but it doesn’t. The author, V.E. Schwab, has an amazing talent for being able to switch scenes and locations in a clear way. Additionally, V.E. Schwab was able to make each London rich, detailed, and unique. So, you get 4 Londons to play with, instead of just one! Lastly, as with all my other suggestions, this book has multiple, strong, well-developed characters.

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked A Darker Shade of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning collector's edition of the acclaimed novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab.

With an exclusive metallic ink cover, this edition will feature:

* End papers of London
* Fan art
* A glossary of Arnesian and Antari terms
* An interview between author and editor
* Original (never before seen!) tales from within the Shades of Magic world

Kell is one of the last Antari-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons. There is Red London, where life and magic are revered, Grey London, without magic and ruled by mad King…

Book cover of Interview with the Vampire

Why did I love this book?

I choose this book above other vampire classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula because of its unique focus on the lives and thoughts of the vampires, rather than the usual ‘love you forever’ theme that is prevalent in many famous, vampire stories. The author looked at vampires as humans who are dealing with eternity, the price you need to pay for it, and the loneliness that comes with it. This is one of the best vampire stories in terms of incredibly well-developed and rich, vampire characters.

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Interview with the Vampire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Anne Rice, this sensuously written spellbinding classic remains 'the most successful vampire story since Bram Stoker's Dracula' (The Times)

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.

When Interview with the Vampire was published the Washington Post said it was a 'thrilling, strikingly original work of the imagination . . . sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, always unforgettable'. Now, more than forty years since its release, Anne…


By Adrienne Young,

Book cover of Namesake

Why did I love this book?

I’m a sucker for teen romance, but, I don’t like it when that’s all the story is about. Fable and Namesake had that awesome teen love but it was perfectly intertwined into the larger plot of the story. On that note, the plot was great! It was rich and extensive, not just a cover for the romance. Additionally, the book delved into parent-teen relationships on a realistic and detailed level, which I find to be a rarity in YA fantasy novels.

By Adrienne Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Namesake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug's scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception, she learns that the secrets her mother took to her grave are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save…

The Secret Garden

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Secret Garden

Why did I love this book?

This is a children’s classic and was one of my favorite books when I was about ten years old. It’s not a fantasy, like my other suggestions, but as a child, the concept of finding this beautiful, wild, secret garden felt absolutely magical and fantastical. It’s what every kid imagines - amazing secret places and magical hideaways. The author also focused on concepts of friendship, family, and belonging in a way that really spoke to me as a child. I read this book multiple times as a kid and love it to this day. I’d even suggest it to adults who haven’t read it.

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Secret Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rediscover the magical story of Mary Lennox, who arrives in the wild and windswept Yorkshire a sickly and miserable girl - until she discovers a forgotten, Secret Garden.

As Mary works hard to bring the garden back to life, its magic begins to work on her too . . .

This classic and beloved story has been beautifully retold by Claire Freedman and brought to glorious visual life by new illustration talent Shaw Davidson

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in magic-supernatural, sibling rivalry, and seas?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about magic-supernatural, sibling rivalry, and seas.

Magic-Supernatural Explore 502 books about magic-supernatural
Sibling Rivalry Explore 18 books about sibling rivalry
Seas Explore 20 books about seas

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lord of the Rings, Dracula, and Rebecca if you like this list.